Risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm after ectatic aorta detection from initial screening

Kevin C. Chun, Richard C. Anderson, Hunter C. Smothers, Kanika Sood, Zachary T. Irwin, Machelle D. Wilson, Eugene S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Current abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) surveillance guidelines lack any follow-up recommendations after initial abdominal aortic screening diameter of less than 3.0 cm. Some reports have demonstrated patients with late AAA formation and late ruptures after initial ultrasound screening detection of patients with an aortic diameter of 2.5 to 2.9 cm (ectatic aorta). The purpose of this study was to determine ectatic aorta prevalence, AAA development, rupture risk, and risk factor profile in patients with detected ectatic aortas in a AAA screening program. Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients screened for AAA from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2016, within a regional health care system was conducted. Screening criteria were men 65 to 75 years of age that smoked a minimum of 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. An ectatic aorta was defined as a maximum aortic diameter from 2.5 to 2.9 cm. An AAA was defined as an aortic diameter of 3 cm or greater. Patients screened with ectatic aortas who had subsequent follow-up imaging of the aorta with a minimum of 1-year follow-up were analyzed for associated clinical and cardiovascular risk factors. All data were collected through December 3,/2018. A logistic regression of statistically significant variables from univariate and χ2 analyses were performed to identify risks associated with the development of AAA from an initially diagnosed ectatic aorta. A Cox proportional hazard model was used to assess survival data. A P value of less than.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: From a screening pool of 19,649 patients, 3205 (16.3%) with a mean age of 72.1 ± 5.3 years were identified to have an ectatic aorta from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2016. The average screening ectatic aortic diameter was 2.6 ± 0.1 cm. There were 672 patients (21.0%) with a mean age of 73.0 ± 5.7 years who received subsequent imaging for other clinical indications and 193 of these patients (28.7%) with ectatic aortas developed an AAA from the last follow-up scan (4.2 ± 2.5 years). The average observation length of all patients was 6.4 ± 2.9 years. No ruptures were reported, but 27.8% of deaths were of unknown cause. One patient had aortic growth to 5.5 cm or greater (0.15%). Larger initial screening diameter (P <.01), presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (P <.01), and active smoking (P =.01) were associated with AAA development. Conclusions: Patients with diagnosed ectatic aortas from screening who are active smokers or have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are likely to develop an AAA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • AAA
  • AAA screening
  • Ectatic aorta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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